Fears of Public Speaking (Kitt, Can You Impersonate Me?)


After a morning thunderstorm, Lucy and I took a long walk at the high school. My Scottish collie was tired, so where did she decide to rest? In a rainwater puddle, of course! 



Today I felt inspired to write about a book promotion-related fear I’ll face this fall. I’ll eventually write about other book-related trepidations, but I won’t ignore topics close to my heart ranging from the serious to the superficial, i.e. bipolar disorder, motherhood, the supernatural, coffee (a.k.a. the 5th food group), miscellaneous cool resources, and, naturally, my dog Lucy.

It’s safe to say there will be no more anecdotes about mountain lion encounters or freaky spiders – hurrah!

Public Speaking

Some of Us Have the Oratorical Bug…

Some of Us Don’t


I wish I could have mental health advocate/blogger Kitt O’Malley impersonate me this fall when I do my book events.

Kitt is a passionate and gifted speaker. She taps into her talent as a NAMI Provider Educator at the hospital where she received inpatient and partial day treatment over a decade ago. Kitt educates staff on what it’s like to live with mental illness and to be in mental health recovery. As a mom with bipolar, she has many responsibilities and she does all kinds of activities. Somehow I don’t think she has the time to fly up here to pretend to be me, but I certainly could try bribing her. You never know… 

I adore Kitt!

As a mom with bipolar, she has many responsibilities and she does all kinds of activities. Somehow I don’t think she has the time to fly up here to pretend to be me, but I certainly could try bribing her. You never know… 

My husband Craig is also an accomplished and dynamic public speaker. After his book Quest for Flight – John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West was published, he was psyched to give book talks wherever he could. Craig has given over fifty presentations at libraries, aviation clubs, museums, and other groups. He continues to receive speaking invitations even though his book was published in 2012!

I’m thinking maybe, just maybe, it’s time to drag myself to the Redwood Ramblers, my local chapter of TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL.

TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL is a non-profit organization that aims to help its members develop “public speaking and leadership skills through practice and feedback in local clubs since 1924.” 

Look at all the TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL benefits:

You know, that list reminds me of the tenets of this rather mysterious dogma!

There’s no need for me to feel paranoid. A trusted source tells me that TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL is proud to be GMO-free

and Tom Cruise-free!

(If you’re a Scientologist, I don’t mean to offend you…much.)

Book Endorsement Pupdate Update

Meanwhile, the ARC (advanced review copy) of my book is being read by a variety of amazing psychiatrists, mental health advocates, and authors. They live in Australia, Kuwait, England, Western Canada, Oregon, upstate New York, and Massachusetts.

Karen Kleiman is the founder of the Postpartum Stress Center, a bestselling author, and postpartum expert. She emailed me a blurb that actually brought tears to my eyes. 

“Bipolar illness is serious and widely misunderstood. When it emerges in the postpartum period, women and medical professionals are often blindsided due to the current lack of awareness. Birth of a New Brain is a brave and deeply personal account of how bipolar illness can impact a new mother. Her honest reveal of startling references such as mania, ECT, hospital wards, suicide and “tsunami obsessions” creates heartfelt transparency and highlights its stigma-busting potential. Postpartum women in distress will relate to Dyane Harwood’s genuineness and be grateful for this book.”

Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW

Author, The Art of Holding: An Essential Intervention for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety and Founder, The Postpartum Stress Center

Karen designed this fantastic meme that appears in my book


If you have public speaking advice (either happy stories, horror stories or both!) I’d love to know the details. Please share away…

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support!

Sending you lots of love,



Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.

It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales coming this summer!


34 thoughts on “Fears of Public Speaking (Kitt, Can You Impersonate Me?)

  1. I absolutely hate public speaking. But, at the height of my career I had to do a lot of it in many different roles. The old adage, “practice makes perfect” is true. The more you do it the easier it gets. For me, the other crucial factor is how prepared I feel…the more the better. You can beat this…if your going to be famous, you’ll have to get past this fear. Just saying… 🙂

    • As usual, you have gottten a giggle out of me, Sharon, regarding my impending fame you’ve foreseen! 🌟

      I took a “Speech for Teachers” class in college where I spoke regularly in front of 25 college students, and that went well, BUT that was sooooooo long ago and they were an easy crowd.

      6 or 7 years ago I spoke at a church in front of a couple hundred people to thank them for donating money to the DBSA Chapter I started. I was a freakin’ mess, even though I read from a script! I didn’t help matters that I was depressed. My voice shook, my body shook – it was utterly humiliating. That was my last public speaking fiasco!

      I checked out the Redwood Ramblers website and they sound like really nice people. Now, I need to simply show up to a meeting. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? 😉 I’ll let you know how it goes. And thanks for the GREAT advice and support, as always! 💖

    • Hee hee hee….I’ll try my best! 🎤
      All I can say is that you won’t ever see me on the Tony Robbins circuit!!! (Sorry if you’re a fan – I started watching his new documentary and every other word seemed to be the f-bomb, but my friend said he does that on purpose to “wake people up.”)

      • No, not a Tony Robbins fan. Nor am I a fan of most of the people whose only purpose is to “motivate” others. They are usually too fake and positive and just annoy me. 😦

  2. Thanks so much for the shout out! Toastmasters sounds like a great idea. Honestly, I’m not dependable. In fact, I’ve been home in bed sick this week and haven’t made it to Provider Educator.

    Guess, I have two pieces of advice, one is to use visualization and yoga techniques to imagine taking your anxious energy and converting it to speaking enthusiasm. Of course, that’s more easily said than done, especially if you have social anxiety. My second piece of advice is to forgive yourself if you find yourself overwhelmed and not able to do as much public speaking as you’d like. Social anxiety can be a tough obstacle to overcome — not impossible, but it will take work. Hypnosis may even help.

    I wish you the best as you launch your book!

    • You’re welcome for the shout-out, Kitt! Again, I’m really sorry that you were home sick the past week, and I hope you’re feeling much better today.

      I like the visualization technique idea. (I’ve tried yoga, and there are yoga studios literally every few blocks where I live, but I can’t get into it.)

      I relate to your second piece of advice. Even if I can only do a few presentations I would consider that to be a ginormous success. I’m definitely going to a Toastmasters meeting out of curiosity – the positive feedback I read from the local members was really motivating. I’ll be giving updates as I get closer to the fall! Love you! 🍀

  3. Lady, before you walk onto a stage, breathe in and think your family are in the front row while Lucy is by your side. Talk from your heart and the passion you have about the subject will see you through. Don’t feel frightened to let your audience know you have the social anxiety and public speaking scare. They will laugh and that will relax u more. And for J’s sake, your book is about ‘distress’ so wouldn’t you just be you if you handle it as it comes? Fame can easily light up a flame to burn or warm you up. How will you let your fame affect you? Start thinking about this cause with such blurbs already coming in, it’s a given. I agree with what Sharon and Kitt write… Try out toastmasters I guess you wouldn’t regret it and can start by just sitting at the back and observing. People laugh when I say I am a shy person and that’s for real. I just have this other person in me who pops out when I have to do what I have to do. Reading and writing comes best to me than being out there and speaking lol

    • I will breathe, Fairy G!

      That’s great advice because I tend to hold my breath when I’m stressed, which is not the greatest technique now, is it?

      I don’t mind being totally honest with the group (i.e. telling them that I’m nervous) – it will take some pressure off!

      Despite Sharon’s predictions of fame, I’m not aiming for fame. I just want to show up, do my best, and inform/inspire some people who struggle with bipolar, depression, anxiety, postpartum issues..you know what I mean!

      I love what you wrote: “Fame can easily light up a flame to burn or warm you up.”

      No burning for me, ha ha! 🔥😫

      Yes, I’ll try Toastmasters – they are so welcoming on their website, and they invite people to come visit a few times.
      I’ll let you know how that goes.

      It’s hard for me to realize you are shy at heart – I see you in a different way, but I think that makes you a deeper, more interesting person to have different sides of your lovely personality.

      Thanks for your awesome comment, sweet Marie, and for your faith in me. 💝

      p.s. Miss Lucy says hello!!!!! 🐕

      • I watched your hi everybody vlog a few times again today and although I couldn’t get the mixture right, I got Lucy’s bark at the end lol. As for fame, whether u aim for it or not, it comes if your work attracts it, and u gotta deal with it. I have read the journies of some of your celebs raging from Maya Angelou, Oprah, Michelle O and co, they didn’t aim for fame but when it showed up, they turned and twisted it to their advantage and service. I am doing just that with my little own in my little corner. Your motivations either way are inspiring. Keep it up Lady

  4. Oh, Dyane, I feel you in this. Public speaking has always been terrifying, and probably always will be. But, as Sharon said, practice does make perfect. Best of luck on your book tour! I know you’ll make it!

    • I basically want to show up and not pass out, ha ha! At least I have six months to work on this. That sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? But it’s not – it’s going to fly by too quickly!!!!!! 😱

      p.s. Thanks so much for your kind words!!

  5. Coffee is indeed the 5th food group! 🙂

    But seriously, SpyDy, Kleiman’s words are beautiful–and true! You’re always so open and honest about your feelings, but you also share your experiences with a healthy dose of objectivity. It helps readers see you know just how they feel, and it also helps them feel life in your place, too.

    As for public speaking? Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been in a physical classroom, but guess I could say that you shouldn’t panic if you go on a tangent. I’m always getting off-track when I teach, but because my tangents are often about parenting, reading, or writing, my students don’t mind. It helps them see that I’ve had just as many awful run-ins with tech support, pukey kids, and bad writing as they have. Yeah, I try to cut my tangents off as quickly as I start’em, but I refuse to let my nerves hit fever-pitch just because I go off-topic.

    Never EVER underestimate the power of your awesomeness, Coffee Queen SpyDy! xxxxxxxx

    • ☕️ I must share with you, my gifted scribe, that I was given a glorious Bodum French Press for my birthday, woo hoo! I used to have a mini Bodum during my college years – it was so cute! Check it out:


      Tragically, it disappeared. Now I have a bigger one so I feel complete!

      THANK YOU sooo much for what you wrote about Karen’s remarks. When I read what *you* wrote, I felt good!

      A writer friend of mine who completed a very successful book tour (and has a “Big 5” or “Big 6” fancy publisher) said a key to a well-attended book talk filled with amenable folk was to have locally crafted beer available. 🍺

      I don’t think that will be an option at the first venue, which will (hopefully) will take place at a small library that’s an old church. Beer & bipolar doesn’t quite work as a theme, does it? 👀

      I won’t panic if I go on a tangent (HA! Not “if” but most likely “when”….again and again!) Craig said that having a PowerPoint presentation has helped him stay on track, and he’s willing to help me create one, but I’m not sure about that yet.

      As long as I have enough caffeine in me, there’s a chance I’ll get through it. You’ll certainly read all about it! I just wish I could fly you out here in October for moral (and coffee-making) support!!! ☕️

      • Oo ooh ooooh! What about locally crafted coffee at your library talk? Or tea? Not the same effect as beer, but the aromas would certainly be calming. 🙂
        One of these days I’ll get to the west coast. Until then, I know more awesomeness is bound to blossom in these coming months.
        Love’n’Hugs from Java Jean to the Queen of Coffee SpyDy :)xxxxx

  6. That is a wonderful endorsement, but I am not surprised at all!

    As trainer I speak in front of groups all the time so I can say being nervous is natural, don’t fear it but allow it to give you energy into your content. Preparation can do a lot to mitigate nervousness and just remember, a few minutes into talking passionately about your book and you will be just fine.

    Kitt is awesome but then again so are you, don’t see yourself short!

  7. All I can say, is, be careful what you ask for . . . I mean . . . it sounds like you may have written a blockbuster of a book, DyDy, and speaking goes with the territory (rut-roh!) – Howevah! I have full confidence in you and your abilities, whether you are scared or not, let your intuition, and your HUMOR, lead the way, and I know you will be fine. FINE!

    • Thanks so much, Kate – your comment made me smile! I’m off to go comment @ your blog…good to “meet” you across the miles.

    • Thanks so much for commenting & following, Silvia! I followed you on Twitter (I love Twitter, well, most of the time!) My dog Lucy is my furry angel & we even share the same birthday of March 18th. What kind of class are you going to take? 🙂

  8. I have had to lecture for audiences of 100-300 students. My advice is to rehearse, record yourself rehearsing to at least 2 people and listen to it. Pinpoint the moments you are nervous (um, ah, well etc) and pause at those times. Wish I was nearby to come and cheer you on!

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